How can district cooling improve energy efficiency in new developments?
YASSER AL-JAIDAH Qatar Cool plays a key role in bringing energy-efficient solutions for district cooling in Qatar. The savings that district cooling can bring from CAPEX to OPEX on the lifecycle of a project are considerable. Most importantly, energy efficiency is crucial for environmental sustainability. We actively drive this by our involvement with specific authorities and within the government. We try to push forward an agenda of district cooling and zoning. We have showed policymakers the benefit of having specific policy agendas for a more sustainable environment. We also participate in conferences and write-ups, advocating energy efficiency, sustainability, and the environment. Qatar Cool has an MoU with Tarsheed that will push for further electricity and water conservation. One of our main partners is the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), which has helped us in our research and development agenda to increase usage of sustainable sources, such as recycled water as opposed to fresh water.
AHMED AL AMMARI District cooling is about savings in the long term. There is a huge reduction in energy consumption, up to about 40% less than the conventional cooling. District cooling has proven to be more commercially feasible than conventional. The question now is how commercially viable it is for end users. In the past few years, green products have generally had a higher cost at the outset. District cooling provides a reliable cooling system, though the commercial side was not attractive from the end user's perspective. There has been a great deal of work on the concept and structure to give priority to end users. In Qatar, approval was given to regulate this sector to provide an assurance of value for district cooling systems. Now, there are multiple benefits so that end users receive the best value for their money. We expect a law to be put in place in the near future so that district cooling will be mandated for some developments and those of a certain size, where feasible and beneficial.
What opportunities do you see in the sector?
YAJ Based on our research, district energy is on the rise. We are the fifth-largest company in district cooling internationally. UN-Energy advocates district cooling, giving its overall savings for the country itself. After several years, the savings could be as high as QAR15 billion (USD4.12 billion), a large part of which is OPEX. Governments should consider district cooling as part of their urban planning by reclassifying district energy as a utility. It is important to work out cost-recovery models because what makes district cooling costly is the infrastructure and capital costs required to build it. If the government lays down the pipelines and arranges providers to offer the product, it would lead to substantial savings for consumers, therefore increasing the acceptance of district cooling. Another element is zoning and asset allocation; if a company knew ahead of time that a certain zone is approved for district cooling, it could better plan on its loads. Currently, many people cannot invest early because they do not know what a zone will look like. Internationally, there needs to be more organizations and people advocating this, which is what we are doing at sectorial and urban planning.
AAA In 2017, Marafeq organized the International District Cooling and Heating Conference, bringing together the main players in the sector on a global scale. It was certainly a challenge. It came soon after the blockade, which made inviting people and bringing them to Doha a tricky issue. In spite of that, it was an extremely successful event that we worked in partnership with the Qatar Tourism Authority. From this experience, we learned how Europe seeks to move ahead in district heating, though it needs some time to establish the right laws and regulation. All the large cities in Europe are a great opportunity for district heating. In some parts of Europe with extremely hot summers, district cooling is now an option. Another option is in the US, for example, in large university campuses. It is truly moving in that direction at the moment; however, district cooling or heating requires the PPP model, because there is urban planning and infrastructure phasing at town scale to take into account.